New Goodwill® National Poll: Amid Pandemic, Majority of Current Job Seekers Say They Lack Skills Needed to Access Good Jobs

Majority of adults (54%) are not in an ideal job with opportunities to grow, and most say skills training would help. Read the full results.

ROCKVILLE, MD — A majority of current job seekers indicate a lack of skills and access to training is a primary barrier to employment, according to a new poll released today by Goodwill. Women of color were among the most likely to say they didn’t apply to a job they wanted because they didn’t have the skills or training required. Overall, 54% of adults don’t feel they have a stable, well-paying job that lets them have a comfortable quality of life and presents a career path with opportunities for growth.

Among those who are employed and not in an ideal job, 68% say they need more training or skills to have such a position. And those experiencing hurdles around skills and training are also more likely to have experienced loss of hours, pay and even jobs over the last two years, particularly among Latina/o/x adults, young people and adults in the lowest income brackets. The poll also showed that those who are unemployed not only need assistance in getting job training, gaining certificates and finding jobs, but they also need affordable childcare, safe and affordable housing, and mental health counseling. Additionally, nearly half (47%) of unemployed adults looking for work say a lack of skills or education make it hard for them to maintain work or get better jobs.

America has a record high of more than 11.5 million unfilled jobs; many of these positions would pay well and offer attractive growth opportunities. At the same time, 57% of those recently looking for a job did not apply for jobs they wanted because they didn’t believe they had the required skills or training, according to the poll.

“It’s clear we are leaving talent on the sidelines and missing an opportunity for people to realize a better future for themselves and their families, for employers to find the talent they need, for our communities to see more equitable opportunities, particularly for women and people of color who have not participated as fully in the recovery,” said Steven C. Preston, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. “Goodwill has formed partnerships not only to respond to the gap in skills training and support people in their search for employment, but also help to meet the needs of the 75% of unemployed workers who said they need support services such as internet access and transportation to ensure they have the opportunity to thrive in the workforce and beyond.”

Some key findings from the poll include:

  • 66% of current job seekers say they need more training or skills to access a secure job with opportunities to grow.
  • 57% of job seekers in the past two years say a lack of skills or training prevented them from applying for a job they wanted. These respondents are more likely to say they need specific skills rather than a college degree.
  • 36% of recent job seekers had all their applications rejected, with the most common reason being a lack of required skills.
  • 54% of workers say they are not in an ideal job with a path for growth.
  • 94% say it’s important for people to have access to job training and skills as an alternative to college (66% say it’s very important).
  • 84% of unemployed workers are interested in skills training opportunities, such as free classes, training certificates, etc.

These findings are based on a survey of 2,318 adults ages 18-65 who are currently working, looking for work, or would be working if they didn’t face barriers to employment. The poll was administered March 17 through April 4, 2022, using YouGov’s online panel and by research firm, PerryUndem The margin of sampling error for the total results is ±3 percentage points. View the full results.

Goodwill and its Rising Together™ initiative is working to address the skills shortage for job seekers and career advancers as outlined in the poll. Launched a year ago, Rising Together™ is a growing collective of global philanthropic and business leaders and Fortune 50 companies working to empower more than one million individuals with sustainable careers by 2025. It also gives people, particularly those who traditionally face barriers to sustainable, well-paying jobs, access to a wide range of resources. These resources, provided by partners such as Comcast Internet Essentials, Google, Indeed, Lyft and Lowe’s, include credentials, skills training, job placement, transportation and internet access.

Goodwill is embedded in every community across North America and provides in-person and virtual career supports, including job training, mentoring, certifications and credentials, career fairs, classes and job placement; and access to other assistance such as childcare, financial education and transportation. The Goodwill brand has a 120-year history and can provide what is needed in times of economic crises, recessions and moments of social distress.


Goodwill Industries International is a network of 155 community-based, autonomous organizations in the United States and Canada with a presence in 12 other countries. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit that helps people find employment, Goodwill is recognized with GuideStar’s highest rating, the Platinum Seal of Approval.

Local Goodwill organizations offer employment opportunities, job placement and training services, and other community-based programs, funded in part by selling donated clothing and household items in nearly 3,300 stores and at®.

For more information or to find a Goodwill location near you, visit Follow us on Twitter: @GoodwillIntl and @GoodwillCapHill, and find us on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube: GoodwillIntl. Register for our Legislative Action Center via

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